Julian Assange: WikiLeaks founder may challenge extradition to US

image source, Good pictures

  • author, Dominic Cassiani
  • stock, Home Affairs Correspondent
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The High Court has ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can make a fresh appeal against his extradition to the United States.

He was allowed to appeal against an order sending him to the US to stand trial for leaking military secrets.

The decision means Mr Assange can challenge US guarantees about how his future trial will be conducted and whether his right to free speech will be breached.

Mr Assange’s lawyers hugged each other in court after this latest ruling in the legal saga.

They argued that the case against him was politically motivated.

In a short ruling this morning, two senior judges allowed him to appeal against the earlier order, ruling that he should have a full appeal in England.

Mr Assange has resisted extradition from the UK for more than a decade after his website WikiLeaks published thousands of classified US documents in 2010 and 2011.

Mr Assange, who is currently in Belmarsh prison, has months to prepare his appeal on whether US courts will protect his free speech rights as an Australian citizen.

He argues that his disclosures in 2010 exposed US war crimes. Prosecutors say these revelations are life-threatening.

Mr Assange’s supporters cheered as news of the decision filtered from the courtroom.

It means he will stay in England for now.

image caption, Stella Assange, wife of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, outside the High Court, after the verdict

The US is seeking to extradite him after releasing thousands of classified documents – which the US Department of Justice described as “one of the largest compromises of classified information in US history”.

The files reveal that the US military killed civilians in undeclared incidents during the war in Afghanistan.

US officials say Mr Assange endangered his life by failing to redact the names of intelligence operatives in the documents, but his lawyers have argued the case is a politically motivated form of “state retaliation”.

“He really exposed war crimes,” Ms Assange said on BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Monday.

“This case is a reprisal of the country against transparency and accountability.”

At a hearing in March, the US government was given extra time to assure the court that Mr Assange would not be sentenced to death in the US and for two reasons:

  • Mr Assange can rely on the First Amendment to the US Constitution – which protects the right to free speech
  • His Australian citizenship does not count against him

Last month, the judges upheld the US guarantee to the court.

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